E.A. Sports Today

Enjoying the playoff life

Anniston jumps on Fairview early, wins to reach third round for first time since 2011; Brown rushes for 231 yards, 4 TDs
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
It has taken to his senior year for A.J. Brown to make it to the state football playoffs. Now that he’s finally here he wants to stick around as long as possible.
Brown and his Anniston teammates kept their postseason dreams alive Friday night with a 35-7 mauling of Fairview in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs at Lott-Mosby Memorial Stadium. The Bulldogs (8-4) now host Deshler (9-3) for their first third-round game since 2011.
“To play in the playoffs tonight is a blessing and I enjoy it a lot,” Brown said. “It means a lot because I’m trying to get a ring. Not just me, me and my team are trying to get a ring. It gets funner and funner each game.”
Brown was dynamic in the win. He rushed for 231 yards, sometimes carrying multiple tacklers on his back along the way, and scored the Bulldogs’ last four touchdowns after Tony Hunley opened the scoring with a 52-yard burst of the game’s third play from scrimmage.

Brown scored on runs of 23, 3, 13 and 34 yards. He was denied a fifth score when the Aggies caught him at the 1 after a 22-yard burst.
“To have those type of backs, we’re blessed, we’re blessed,” Anniston coach Rico White said. “They ask for the ball and I’m going to ride them as long as I can ride them.”
The Fairview fans lining the fence behind the Aggies bench were pulling hard to rally their boys, telling them they were stronger than the Anniston team on the other side of the line.
It wasn’t strength that was the Aggies’ problem. It was Anniston’s speed, and the Aggies didn’t have an answer for it.
The Bulldogs were quick on defense, continually getting in the Fairview backfield to disrupt any kind of offensive flow the Aggies hoped to muster. They sacked quarterback Parker Martin seven times for 54 yards in losses. On offense, they were just fast, getting to the corners or hitting the hole quickly and breaking off long runs.
The Bulldogs scored of their first four possessions and opened a 28-0 lead. They rushed for 394 yards as a team and had 454 yards of total offense. Defensively, they held the Aggies to minus-4 yards net rushing and 73 yards of net offense.
“Good team, good size up front, good speed,” Fairview coach George Redding said. “We’re not able to simulate that during the week. Our guys did the best they could. It took us a little bit to get settled in, but speed was definitely a difference in the ballgame.”
The Bulldogs just wouldn’t let the Aggies get anything going. Fairview’s most productive plays of the first half were a fumbled punt recovery at the Anniston 36 that kept their first possession alive and a subsequent personal foul penalty that moved the ball to the 21. Then Anniston threw Martin for 30 yards in losses over three of the next four plays.
The Aggies, playing in the second round for only the fourth time in school history and first time since 2010, managed just 11 net yards of offense in the first half. Their longest play from scrimmage in the half was a 10-yard pass that got them back to positive yardage for the game. Their longest play of the game was a 29-yard pass from Martin to J.T. White in the fourth quarter.
“We knew coming into the game we had advantages on speed and size and we wanted to come out and just dictate the whole game,” White said. “Our offense and defense came out and played well.”
“That’s the best team we’ve seen,” Redding said.
Anniston lost what would have been its fifth shutout of the season and first in the playoffs since 2011 Round 3 when Martin connected on a 19-yard swing pass to Mason Black with 1:34 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs answered it right away with Brown’s fourth touchdown two plays into the fourth quarter.
Next week’s game with Deshler will be the Bulldogs’ first third-round game at home since 2010; the team they played that year – Deshler. The Tigers knocked them out in the first round last year.
“We’re determined to get to the next round,” White said. “It’s been a long time since we got this far.
“The kids wanted to build a standard – a legacy – of winning. One thing we preached all week is opportunity. Are you gonna let it pass you by or are you going to take advantage of it? They took advantage of it tonight.”

Fair (7)Ann (35)

Fairview           0          0          7          0          –          7
Anniston          15        13        0          7          –          35
Scoring plays
A – Tony Hunley 52 run (A.J. Brown run), 10:28 1Q
A – A.J. Brown 23 run (Kevin Escareno kick), 2:02 1Q
A – A.J. Brown 3 run (kick failed), 9:22 2Q
A – A.J. Brown 13 run (Kevin Escareno kick), 2:30 2Q
F – Mason Black 19 pass from Parker Martin (Jesus Avalos Hernandez kick), 1:34 3Q
A – A.J. Brown 34 run (Kevin Escareno kick), 11:14 4Q

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